The Athletic Examines the State of 20 Top Programs

Ignatius L Hoops

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Northwestern is the first B1G team examined. (Other team so far: Louisville, UConn and Iowa State).

Some snippets:
Lindsey Pulliam is the avatar for this emergent age of Northwestern women’s hoops. Landmark recruit, leading scorer as a freshman, now twice a first-team All-Big Ten performer with honorable mention All-America status as a junior to top it off. She craves big moments and produces in them. Pulliam enters her final season with a very good shot at becoming only the third player in program history to amass 2,000 career points. We’ll expand on a particularly defining trait in the Spotlight section — when Pulliam decides to get better at something, she usually does — but, generally, the 5-foot-10 senior is where it all begins and ends for this team.

[...]
What to expect from a five-star freshman ranked in the top 50 of the Class of 2020? Well, just about everything. Anna Morris has the size Northwestern needs at 6-foot-3 and the skill set to make an impact with multi-level offense right away. Ideally, Morris makes up in part for Scheid’s absence as the face-up four, only with an even higher high-school pedigree and four years of college basketball ahead of her. “She has a lot of confidence in her shot, which I really like,” Shaw said. “Honestly, it goes in more times than it doesn’t. She’s very calm out there. She doesn’t get frazzled, which a lot of freshmen struggle with.”
 

Ignatius L Hoops

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Add the Buckeyes to the teams examined: Here's a bit on the posts.


Ohio State has a deep, versatile and experienced group coming back this year.

Junior Dorka Juhász is a contender for Big Ten Player of the Year. The Hungarian forward has led the team in scoring and rebounding each of the last two years, upping her production each season. Juhász was one of three players in the country who was 6-foot-4 or taller to make at least 40 3-pointers in 2019-20. The junior’s versatility and ability to play inside or outside makes her one of the toughest matchups in the country. Her 10 double-doubles last year ranked fourth in the Big Ten.

“Being here for two years, getting comfortable with a new language has made me more confident,” Juhász said. “I’m coming into the season with a new mindset to step up as a vocal leader and carry the team on my shoulders. I spent lots of time working on stuff that I struggled with, lots of ballhandling, different finishes from outside so I can play better outside and be more versatile.”

Juhász and her frontcourt mate, Aaliyah Patty, have been in the program the longest, and, along with Miller, will be charged with providing the bulk of the leadership this year. Patty, who is 6-foot-3, started 31 games last year and gives the Buckeyes a strong presence around the rim. She can stretch the floor a bit, too, which led to 17 3-pointers last year. Patty was second on the team with 33 blocked shots as a sophomore.

Rebeka Mikulášiková, a 6-foot-4 sophomore from Slovakia, adds a unique skill set. Her perimeter skills present some matchup issues. She led the team with a 50.3 field-goal percentage and a 46.3 3-point percentage as a freshman before an ankle injury forced her to miss the Big Ten tournament.
 

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How Texas A&M plans to utilize Destiny:

But these are not ordinary times, and so Wells and Wilson will be sharing minutes with Nixon and with Destiny Pitts, a 5-foot-10 pure scorer who averaged 15 points across three seasons for Minnesota before she was suspended and chose to leave in the winter. Although she played the three and the four for the Golden Gophers, Blair wants Pitts, the only transfer granted immediate eligibility thus far, in the backcourt. “I can see us, particularly in the high-low offense, if you’re going to switch on us as that point guard comes off, that’s going to leave Destiny with a point guard on her,” Blair said. “She can get physical and take you inside and post you up, or she can take the 3 from deep.”
 

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Maryland's Angel Reese:

The big question
Does Maryland have another Big Ten Freshman of the Year in Angel Reese?

When Reese chose Maryland over South Carolina, Tennessee, USC and Syracuse a year ago, she became the Terrapins’ highest-rated recruit ever. The No. 2 player in the 2020 class and McDonald’s All-American became the first female player to have her jersey retired by her high school, St. Frances Academy (the alma mater of Las Vegas Aces guard Angel McCoughtry and Michigan State junior Nia Clouden).

Beyond the crazy high school stats (she averaged 18 points, 20 rebounds and five assists during her junior season and 19 points, 10 rebounds and three assists during her senior season) and resume, Frese has noticed even more in Reese’s game since she arrived in August.

“Obviously, I knew how good she was when I recruited her, but I think I didn’t realize the intangible-ness of her edginess that everyone sees — it’s through the roof,” Frese said. “She refuses to lose, and she just builds her teammates up with unreal confidence. I’ve nev er seen a freshman … come in with the confidence and swagger that she has.”
 

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Indiana: the problem:

The Hoosiers attempted a paltry 499 3-pointers last season and made 30.3 percent of them, a mark that ranked in the 38th percentile nationally and last in the Big Ten. Little volume and low productivity meant that only 19.5 percent of their points were scored from beyond the arc, which seems suboptimal for a team with shooters like Patberg, Grace Berger and Jaelynn Penn.

Of course, Indiana will not merely get better by taking more 3-pointers. It doesn’t work that way. But the ability to consistently make shots from that range will lead to the knowledge of when to take them, and proving they can be made will force defenses to stretch outward. That would leave the inside and mid-range game open — and those are the areas where the Hoosiers proved to be lethal last season.
The solution?

Moren believes the Hoosiers have the best starting backcourt in the country, and that’s not just because of Patberg. Junior Grace Berger, second on the team last season with 13.1 points per game, is an adept shooter who only figures to get more lethal as Indiana leans on her to provide an extra scoring punch, potentially via a refined 3-point shot.

“I can say now I’m more confident in it than I have ever been before, so I’m looking forward to this year and showing the hard work that I’ve put into it,” said Berger, who made just 15 of 50 3-pointers last season but otherwise shot 53.6 percent from 2-point range.
 
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